27Mangiapane and Andersson
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

The Flames’ waiver situation for 2019-20 is pretty tidy

The 2018-19 season is firmly in the rear-view mirror for the Calgary Flames. Thus, focus has turned to planning and preparations for the 2019-20 season. In terms of potential impacts of the waiver wire, their roster is in surprisingly strong shape.

A quick rundown

For those unfamiliar, waivers refer to a team’s ability to send a player to the American Hockey League without risking losing them to other NHL clubs. Think of it like the last piece of pizza: the waiver wire is offering the rest of the league the pizza before you eat it yourself. (To be clear: it has nothing to do with one-way or two-way contracts, that’s an entirely different CBA wrinkle.)

Waiver exemption is based on how old a player was when they signed their entry-level contract and expires after a set number of NHL games played or pro seasons played. Generally-speaking, players are waiver exempt for the entirety of their ELC – goaltenders for their ELC plus one season – but there are exceptions that are usually based on age. For the sake of our analysis, we’re ignoring the games played cap in favour of what season the Flames will need to worry about waivers, and focusing on Flames players under contract (or that are pending restricted free agents).

If you’re curious, almost all unrestricted free agents the Flames would potentially sign would require waivers to go to the AHL anyway.

Goaltenders

Required: David Rittich (RFA), Jon GIllies

Exempt: Mason McDonald (RFA; until 2020-21), Nick Schneider (until 2021-22), Tyler Parsons (until 2021-22), Artyom Zagidulin (until 2021-22)

Rittich and Gillies both graduated to being waiver eligible recently; Rittich by virtue of exceeding his games played cap and Gillies by virtue of exceeding his pro seasons cap.

It seems likely that the Flames will have a National Hockey League veteran of some stripe playing in tandem with Rittich in Calgary, so Gillies will likely be put on waivers at the end of training camp and sent to Stockton. Beyond him, the Flames have four waiver-exempt minor leaguers in their system – though if you’re doing the math here, it seems probable that McDonald doesn’t get a qualifying offer and is cut loose simply due to the numbers game.

Defensemen

Required: Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Noah Hanifin, Michael Stone, Rasmus Andersson, Andrew Nielsen, Rinat Valiev (RFA)

Exempt: Oliver Kylington (until 2020-21), Josh Healey (RFA, until 2020-21), Juuso Valimaki (until 2021-22), Alexander Yelesin (until 2022-23), Carl-Johan Lerby (until 2022-23)

Andersson became waiver eligible after the 2018-19 season.

This is pretty tidy work by the Flames management group, all told. The five everyday “regular” defensemen require waivers, as do Stone (who would be a serviceable sixth or seventh defender), Nielsen and Valiev (who would both be solid AHL depth). The prospect defenders are all fairly staggered, so you can imagine a scenario where the Flames move out an established body each season as the youngsters become waiver eligible (or move out youngsters as assets to fix other parts of the roster).

Forwards

Required: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk (RFA), Michael Frolik, James Neal, Mark Jankowski, Sam Bennett (RFA), Austin Czarnik, Derek Ryan, Andrew Mangiapane (RFA), Curtis Lazar (RFA), Buddy Robinson, Kerby Rychel (RFA), Brett Pollock (RFA), Alan Quine (RFA)

Exempt: Spencer Foo (RFA, until 2020-21), Ryan Lomberg (RFA, until 2020-21), Dillon Dube (until 2021-22), Matthew Phillips (until 2021-22), Luke Philp (until 2021-22), Adam Ruzicka (until 2022-23), Martin Pospisil (until 2022-23), Glenn Gawdin (until 2022-23), Dmitry Zavgorodniy (until 2023-24)

Mangiapane, Jankowski and Tkachuk all became waiver eligible at the end of the 2018-19 season after exceeding their season exemption cap.

As with the blueline group, the succession of waiver eligibility for the young forwards seems pretty clean. Foo and Lomberg may be destined to be NHL/AHL tweeners, but the waiver statuses of the remaining seven youngsters are spread out enough as to provide the Flames with a good amount of wiggle room.

It’s kind of crazy that Dube and Valimaki – who are almost good enough to be full-time NHLers – are waiver exempt for the next two full seasons (barring them playing a ton of NHL games in the interim).

Long story short: the Flames aren’t likely to need to make any “panic” trades or other moves for the sake of waivers. The players that need waivers are the players that (a) are full-time NHLers or (b) are players they probably wouldn’t lose too much sleep over losing on the waiver wire anyway.

    • Kevin R

      Why? Dont you want to try winning in the next2-3 years.If Kakko or Hughes are as good as Gaudreau, Rangers & Jersey will be ecstatic. After their 3 year ELC they will be wanting 11-12 mill per on potential the way the league is going.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        The way the league is going those kids could be bona fide superstars well before their ELCs expire. As such, wouldn’t they be huge assets in helping their teams win now, in the next 2-3 years and beyond?

        • Kevin R

          How do you know they will be superstars at the NHL level??? Is Hilshier or Patrick better than Johnny?
          How about Dahlin? You have a bonafide top 10 scorer & you want to trade for an unproven kid you think should be a top 10 scorer???? No thanks.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I don’t see Jersey doing that deal. First, they don’t have a bigtime centre whom Johnny can complement. Second, there is the age gap. To an 18-year-old, Johnny is an old fart. Third, some of the shine on Johnny came off during the last part of the season when he couldn’t get 100 points, and his playoff performance was forgettable. Finally, there is his curious choice to play at the worlds. How does playing at the worlds make him a better player come next playoffs? I don’t see it. The big ice, lax competition and soft hockey do nothing to harden a man for the playoff grind. Wouldn’t Johnny be of more benefit to the Flames if instead of going to the worlds, he attended Tie Domi’s “Little Big Man Hockey Camp” where as well as doing intense weight training to add some muscle, he would learn how to give as well as he takes on the ice. Sticks and elbows do not discriminate on the basis of size. Seems Johnny at the worlds is mostly driven by his big ego which is usually a good thing, but this time, it doesn’t help the Flames.

      • Getpucksdeep

        Whats wrong with Stone? The guy came in 3 years ago and filled a big hole in the top 4 and did it well. Stone and Engalland were both the same. If they played 10-12 minutes they never got their heads in the game. Both them play better when they get full 18-20 minutes a game. Stone’s big and can and will, separate a guy from the puck by pinning him on the boards. Maybe Hamilton and Brodie score more and maybe Bouwmeester can skate circles around him but they all avoided such activity. He’s a less talented version of Hamonic really. He’s only been 7th simply because guys like Valimaki, Andersson and even Kjillington blossomed . I wouldn’t be shocked if he was part of a package. When the cap was 74 mill, 3 years ago, 3 mill seemed like a lot of dough. Next year when it could be 85 mill suddenly 3 mil with 1 year left could work somewhere..

        • Puck Head

          The main problem is his speed. He would have been absolutely dismantled by Colorado.

          I actually didn’t mind his game because it was simple, he would block shots and take the body. I just can’t see why a team would talk on a bottom pairing d-man like him for that price.

          Look at it this way Getpucksdeep, what would you say if Tre brought a guy like him in on a trade? Seriously, why would any GM who wants to keep his job trade for him?

  • Garry T

    Puck Head, Get Pucks Deep is entirely correct in his thought process. Of the seven D we have if you have to keep Stone, Stone religiously clears the front of the net, thus minimizing goals against. I would actually like to see Stone timed on a rink around race to see how far he is behind, if indeed he is. He has always proved to be relatively quick getting back into position.
    He has been around the block and there are things he could teach our young guys on D. I would not mind seeing every D get a night off on a scheduled rotational basis. It would help rest and heal the bodies as D is a tough position to play.

    • Puck Head

      The conversation was about his trade potential, which is low, especially after being out so long. I’m fine with him as an extra D-man because he does play a simple and physical game. My main worry is him in the playoffs when other teams ratchet up their intensity levels and speed.

      That said, if we played a better defensive system and didn’t gift the opposition high speed entries into our zone it would help all our D out. It makes me think of people criticizing Gio’s speed and saying age was catching up to him. Any D-man in the league would have look flat footed and slow the way we let them fly through the neutral zone and freely enter our zone. I still can’t understand why BP didn’t adapt? I guess he got a nice long summer out of it…

      • BlueMoonNigel

        I am not fine with the 7th defenceman making $3.5M. The only thing more galling will be a Neal as the 13th forward earning his $5.75M per annum for the next four years.

        • Puck Head

          Assuming he can’t be traded I would rather him play as the 7th defence man and fill in, as needed. If he plays well we can hold onto him for the playoffs or maybe we can move him at the TDL. I would rather do this than buy him out.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            “If he plays well we can hold onto him for the playoffs or maybe we can move him at the TDL. I would rather do this than buy him out.”

            Weren’t those exact words said about Troy Brouwer?

            If he is playing well and the team is in the playoff hunt, you’re not trading him at the deadline based on the idea that you can’t have too many defenders come playoffs.

            Stone’s only value to the club last season was that he was possible bait to draw his FA brother here. That didn’t happen. You could also say that his getting injured opened up a spot Kylington who showed a great deal of promise.

            Then there is the cap matter. Along with Neal, Stone eats up over $9M per year in dead money. Too much!

      • Garry T

        Puck Head, your second paragraph on the opposition entering our zone is spot on. Peters has not reacted to this problem. Huska has responsibility for the defence. He has to own that. You should send a note off to BP